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Local veterans react to VA hospital scandal
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
Southeast Texas veterans agree the wait is often weeks, even months, for servicemen and women to see doctors at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Today, President Obama said he will investigate reports of secret waiting lists at certain VA hospitals. Those reports indicate 40 veterans died while waiting for care at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
Myles Galceran is a Vietnam veteran. He wasn't surprised to hear reports of doctored waiting lists at VA hospitals across the country.
"Not overall, because I've heard too many horror stories from other people," said Galceran.
"Very sad, it's so unnecessary, but it's also somewhat predictable," said Kerwin Stone.
Stone is also a Vietnam veteran and the vice president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Texas State Council. He says the Veterans Administration needs more treatment centers to meet demand.
"They need to be expanded, to be expanded they need more funding, funding is a battleground in Congress," said Stone.
He says the VA hospital in Houston is wonderful, but overwhelmed by the number of veterans who need care.
"And they're all competent to do their jobs, and they do them as quickly, as friendly as they can, but when you go into any waiting area it's hard to find a seat," said Stone.
Stone says the time it takes to get an appointment depends upon the severity of the problem.
"It could be a month, three months, six months," said Stone. "If you have a problem, go to an emergency room, go to a private provider, if you have the means to do so."
Both local veterans are happy with the Beaumont VA Outpatient Clinic.
"I think they're doing a good to excellent job really," said Galceran. "I think our doctors here are caring and want us to be taken care of."
"The clinic here, they will fit you in if you need to be seen," said Stone. "They're, again, for more minor problems or for checkups on a continuing basis."
President Obama is vowing to get to the bottom of the VA Hospital scandal.
"I really don't think things will change," said Stone. "They're always looking for a scapegoat."
Stone says the VA will have a lot more veterans to take care of in the future.
"Young veterans by far outnumber the older veterans, which is not a good indication for the future for the Department of Veteran Affairs," said Stone.
A department whose purpose is to help veterans with wounds, both physical and mental.
"Because they are deserving of it. They have served their country," said Galceran.
Twenty-six VA hospitals are under investigation for manipulating wait times and other problems.